April 18, 2014

3:00 PM | Why Can't the Zombie-Focused Sociologist Get a Job?
An occasional topic here at College Guide has been the employment problem many aspiring academics have. Because American universities produce far, far more PhDs every year than there are tenure-track positions, many potential professors have hard time supporting themselves, despite their impressive credentials. And some people have a really hard time. Todd K. Platts writes at Inside Higher Ed about his situation: Like many recently minted Ph.D.s [his is from the University of Missouri] I am […]

April 17, 2014

10:39 PM | Teachers Have a Respect Problem. Guess Why?
There’s big lawsuit in California. With the backing of a group called Students Matter, nine public school students from across the state are suing, in Vergara v. California, arguing that state laws make it so hard to to fire bad teachers in public schools that many students, especially black and Hispanic ones, can't get a "basic" education. Plaintiffs says this is about ensuring teacher quality. The opponents say this is about the labor rights of teachers. But there’s a problem […]
9:40 PM | The Political Attractiveness of "Last-Dollar" Scholarships
The old adage about there being no such thing as a free lunch may hold true regarding a turkey sandwich on rye bread, but free lunches can happen in the world of higher education. An example of this is the growing number of “last-dollar” scholarships, in which private entities or state/local governments agree to cover students’ remaining tuition and fees after all federal grants have been provided. (Note that it does not cover room and board or living expenses—an […]
6:33 PM | Education Reform and "Teacher Haters"
I’ve been writing publicly about politics for a few years now, so I’ve become accustomed to a pretty steady stream of hate mail. It appears to come with the territory. And nothing—nothing—lights up my inbox with insults like writing about education reform. It would be one thing if folks objected to the substance of what I write—but most of the time, the emails are pure ad hominem attacks. They impugn my motives or call me a “teacher […]
3:20 PM | New York Kicks Off a New ELLs Conversation
New Yorkers are famous for their narcissistic myopia. Talk to a long-time resident, and you’ll hear just as much parochialism as any small-town stalwart. New Yorkers take it for granted that they embody the cutting edge. If you make it in New York, sure, you can make it anywhere, but—once you’ve made it—why would you bother leaving? And while this is almost always bluster beyond any semblance of reality, when it comes to education policy, New York has been grabbing all […]

April 16, 2014

9:59 PM | Using Better Metrics to Build Better Schools
Envision runs a group of three charter high schools in the Bay Area. They champion, as many schools do these days, “deeper learning” and “21st century skills.” Envision enacts this philosophy through a “Know-Do-Reflect” process that uses projects, portfolios and presentations to integrate assessment with learning. They prompt students to turn the lens both inward and outward. The students are asked to self-assess their own progress, and through the portfolio […]
1:41 PM | CBO Finds Third Consecutive Year of Good News on Pell Costs
Yesterday, the Congressional Budget Office announced some more good news for members of Congress: For the third consecutive year, the Pell Grant funding cliff is smaller and further away than we thought. After a few shaky years of funding during the recession, the updated CBO baseline will surely come as welcome news to lawmakers facing midterm elections and a tight budget. But should Congress start celebrating just yet? Not quite. The new CBO estimates prove Congress has bought some time, but […]

April 15, 2014

10:14 PM | CCDBG Reauthorization a Must for House Republicans
At least in recent years, Congress is usually where educational improvements go to die. But last month, the Senate passed a reauthorization bill for the Child Care and Development Block Grant. Senators sent the bill over to the House, where Education and Workforce Committee Chairman John Kline (R-MN) held a hearing. But what happens next remains to be seen. This week, I published an op-ed in The Hill urging House Republicans to give the bill a second look. I listed four reasons the members […]
7:19 PM | California Among the Worst in Awarding Degrees to Hispanics
With a population more than twice as Hispanic as the national average, California has a lower-than-average proportion of Hispanics with college or university educations, and no institution among the top five for awarding them degrees, according to a new study. The state is 38 percent Hispanic, compared to the national average of 17 percent. But only 16 percent of adults aged 25 or older have degrees, compared to the national average for Hispanics of 20 percent, the study, by the advocacy […]
1:55 PM | Challenges and Best Practices for Scaling Home Visiting Programs
Strum the American heartstrings, and you’ll hear a familiar triad of affections: baseball, apple pie, and parenthood. Americans are eager parents—our birth rates, while falling, remain well above many other developed countries. We so revere the practice of parenting, however, that we generally accept that it must necessarily be sacred to the point of magic. “You can’t legislate morality,” goes the truism; most legislators put “parenting” in that same […]

April 14, 2014

10:52 PM | Whoa! Do 45 Federal Programs Really Fund Early Care and Education?
Last week, the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee held a hearing on the Strong Start for America’s Children Act, a bill that would help expand state pre-K programs. While there is support among Senate Democrats for the bill, there is less among Senate Republicans. Instead, Senate Republicans want to streamline existing programs and give states much more flexibility in their provision of birth-to-5 early education programs. Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN), […]

April 11, 2014

10:59 PM | Should There Be Gainful Employment for College Athletes?
College athletics, particularly the big-revenue sports of NCAA Division I football and basketball, have been in the news lately for less-than-athletic reasons. The recent push by the Northwestern football team to unionize has led to further discussion of whether college athletes* should be compensated beyond their athletic scholarships. And the University of Connecticut’s national championship team in men’s basketball comes a year after they were banned from the tournament due to […]
7:02 PM | How's that Cooper Union Tuition Plan Working Out? Not So Well.
Recently Cooper Union, the New York City college that didn't charge tuition, decided after a series of bad financial and real estate decisions over the last decade or so (and constructing flashy buildings like that thing, below), to give up and start charging kids to learn. Founder Peter Cooper said the school should be as “free as air and water” when he helped create the institution back in 1859. Charging tuition is, of course, what almost all colleges in America do, but it […]
12:07 AM | Community Colleges Increasingly Adding Bachelor’s Degrees
CLEARWATER, Fla. - In a high-ceilinged classroom, bright sun poking through the blinds and reflecting off the whiteboard, eight students lug heavy textbooks to their desks and prepare for this afternoon’s lesson: proteins. It’s an unusually small group for a bachelor’s degree-level course in biology. At four-year universities, classes like this are often taught in large and impersonal lecture halls, and might have hundreds of students. But this is not a university. There […]

April 10, 2014

8:32 PM | Despite the National Labor Relations Board Ruling, We Might Never Pay College Athletes
The world’s higher education pundits have recently become very interested in the ruling by the National Labor Relations board that Northwestern University football players could organize to form a union. Does this mean that in the future college athletes will get salaries? Perhaps, but there’s a very easy (and very attractive) tactic for colleges to take to avoid paying their athletes: stop giving them athletic scholarships. The NLRB states that the players can try to form a union […]
6:10 PM | Three Things That Will Make a School Bad
Conventional wisdom has it that schools with high concentrations of poverty are bad. But when a team of researchers from University of Pennsylvania’s Graduate School of Education (Penn GSE) studied every third grader in the Philadelphia public schools, they found strong student achievement in some schools with high concentrations of poverty. The low-achieving schools were ones with high concentrations of homelessness and child abuse. Not only did the performance of the students […]

April 09, 2014

7:19 PM | Almost 70% of Teachers Are Not Engaged. Here's Why That Matters So Much
Wednesday Gallup released a major report on the State of American Schools. Their data paints a picture of schools performing as a complex ecosystem, with the wellbeing, engagement, and performance of teachers, students, and principals all intertwined. The report combines decades of surveys of 5 million American teachers and principals with the results of the Gallup Student Poll, now billed at the largest survey of American students with 600,000 5th through 12 grade participants, and […]
6:00 PM | At Last, Porn Studies
For those of you looking for new scholarly research projects, or trying to publish rather, well, unusual studies, perhaps about the adult film industry, academic publishing has provided America with a new venue. According to a press release from Routledge (Taylor & Francis Group), the academic publisher, which also issues such venerated titles as Aging and Mental Health, the British Journal for the History of Philosophy, and the Journal of Library Administration, announced last week that […]

April 08, 2014

10:15 PM | Million Records Project Raises as Many Questions as Answers
Last month, the Student Veterans of America (SVA), together with the Department of Veterans Affairs and the National Student Clearinghouse, released a host of new data on veterans’ higher education outcomes. The Million Records Project report, published by SVA, made use of previously unavailable data to show that more than half of veterans in a large sample had graduated within the 10-year period. (For the full summary, check out our earlier write-up here.) But for all the questions the […]
6:24 PM | What Works -and Doesn't- in a Longer School Day
When Say Yes to Education, a New York-based nonprofit, took its program for school reform to Syracuse, N.Y., one of its nonnegotiable conditions was that the district stretch learning time into the late afternoon and the summer. Say Yes based its demand on the assumption that urban students like those in Syracuse generally require more time to compensate for gaps. A number of reports beginning in the 1990s have urged schools to lengthen the time that youngsters spend learning. Now, five and a […]
5:01 PM | Schools Can Overcome the Challenges of Poverty — With the Right Interventions
When President Obama launched My Brother’s Keeper last month to help young men and boys of color reach their full potential, he shared what had made the difference in his own life: “I had people who encouraged me — not just my mom and grandparents, but wonderful teachers and community leaders — and they’d push me to work hard and study hard and make the most of myself…They never gave up on me,” he recounted, “and so I didn’t give up on […]
3:06 AM | "Unprecedented" Numbers Opt Out of State Tests-What's Next?
Today students in New York State begin three days of state-mandated tests in English language arts.  But thousands of families across the state, from Syracuse and Buffalo to the Hudson Valley, Long Island to New York City, will sit out the tests, citing concerns with their relevance and the sense that the curriculum has been taken over by preparation. “It shifts the entire focus of the classroom,” says Jeannette Deutermann, the organizer behind Long Island Opt Out, a Facebook […]

April 04, 2014

8:11 PM | A New Model for For-Profit Education?
In the last decade for-profit colleges have come under extensive scrutiny for their low graduation rates, their former students’ high loan default rates, and the fact that many former students appear to have getting a job once they leave these institutions. One of the major problems is that a success of large for-profit schools doesn’t have anything to do with the success of their students, profit comes from just getting more people to enroll. More students (and their federal […]
3:08 AM | PLUS Loans are not Grants
Last week, during the U.S. Department of Education’s Program Integrity negotiated rulemaking, UNCF released a policy report–The Parent PLUS Loan Crisis: An Urgent Crisis Facing Students at the Nation’s HBCUs–about the effect of the change in the credit check criteria for Parent PLUS loans. In this report, PLUS loans are treated almost as if they are the same as other federal student aid options. Parent PLUS loans, however, are not like other forms of federal student aid […]

April 03, 2014

6:53 PM | The Black Hole of PLUS Loan Outcomes
Much of the debate about improving federal higher education data quality has focused on whether a student unit record dataset is necessary in order to give students, their families, and policymakers the information they need in order to make better decisions. Last month’s release of College Blackout: How the Higher Education Lobby Fought to Keep Students in the Dark by Amy Laitinen and Clare McCann of the New America Foundation highlighted the potential role of the higher education lobby […]
2:41 PM | New Columns on Urban Education Reform: Politics and Segregation
Urban education reform fights have a way of driving the national policy conversation. New York Mayor Bill de Blasio’s ongoing efforts to change the trajectory of the Big Apple’s public schools have taken on importance well beyond the five boroughs. Of course, the political feedback system is a loop: if de Blasio’s push for pre-K influences media coverage of early education, it also brings new attention from outside. For instance, a recent UCLA report claiming that the state of […]

April 02, 2014

10:42 PM | U.S. Students Rank Better Internationally On New Problem Solving Test Than They Do On Conventional Math and Reading Exams
Here’s a modest test result to bolster the argument of those who say the American educational system isn’t so terrible. On a new creative problem-solving test taken by students in 44 countries and regions, U.S. 15-year-olds scored above the international average and rank at number 18 in the world. That’s much better than the below-average performance of U.S. students on the PISA (Program for International Student Assessment) reading and math tests conducted by the […]
8:00 PM | Janet Napolitano: Online Won't Fix Our Problems
In general, I’m sort of ambivalent about the University of California’s decision to hire former Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano as its president. The trends impacting the university system (declining state funding, increasing administrative costs, changing state demographics) are probably so strong that her impact and ability to fix things will be pretty limited. But sometimes her perspective is rather refreshing. Her latest comments come in reaction to the ambiguous […]
7:12 PM | Ryan Budget Brings Little New to the Table on Education
Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI), chair of the House Budget Committee, this morning released his own fiscal year 2015 proposed budget. The budget, if the House adopts it, would serve as that chamber’s 2015 budget resolution, establishing spending and revenue targets for the upcoming fiscal years. (The Senate has already decided not to pass a budget resolution, so even if the House version passes, there will be no joint fiscal year 2015 resolution.) There are few differences between Ryan’s […]
1:16 PM | College - Worth It or Worth Less?
College has never been worth so much – or so little. New research from the Pew Center shows the wage gap between those with a college degree and those without is at an all-time high. Moreover, the college wage premium has actually been widening. Yet at the same time, real average earnings for young college graduates are at historic lows – down 6 percent from 2007 levels, even as the labor market recovers. Average student debt per borrower has climbed to a staggering $29,400. Does […]
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